Pubs warn of blow to sector if easing of Covid restrictions delayed beyond 21 June
Pub bosses have told the government there is “no reason” to delay the further easing of Covid restrictions that will let them welcome more punters inside on 21 June.
It comes as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that fewer than a quarter of pub owners say they are “highly confident” they will survive the next three months.
The ONS said 23.9 per cent of companies were extremely optimistic about the future. 19 per cent of pubs reported “low confidence” in May, an increase on previous figures.
Patrick Dardis, chief executive of pub giant Young’s, said sector confidence will be sapped further if the government delays the current road map out of lockdown restrictions and there is “no reason” for such delays.
He said: “If the Government continues to make decisions at very short notice and not engage properly with businesses, uncertainty will prevail and confidence will deteriorate”.
The ONS data also revealed that 55 per cent of pub workers were still in furlough at the start of last month, compared with 8 per cent of the UK’s wider workforce.
Greene King’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie said the figures show that “the entire sector is in a precarious position”, with smaller businesses facing a particularly hard impact.
The comments from pub leaders come as the latest weekly Covid figures show a 60 per cent increase in cases and 72 further deaths in the past seven days.
Mackenzie said: “Now, with uncertainty hanging over the country re-opening on June 21, there is a real risk that restrictions may remain in place, meaning that pubs will be unable to trade profitably as crucial financial support falls away.
“If that happens, the impact on pubs will be huge and it’s going to be a real struggle for many to survive.
Over the weekend, British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said pubs risk becoming “unviable” if measures remain in place. Despite 90 per cent of UK pubs reopening after lockdown, the BBPA said pubs traded 20 per cent lower in the first week of reopening indoors compared to the same period in 2019.
Mackenzie said: “We are relying on the Euros and the summer to begin rebuilding and, without the ability to do that, it is imperative that the Government continues to provide support to save the sector, especially by extending the business rates holiday and removing the cap which will affect so many businesses.”